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Amendment 49 and Government Payroll Reform

IB-2008-D (October 2008)
Author: Ben DeGrow

PDF of full Issue Backgrounder
Scribd version of full Issue Backgrounder


Amendment 49 on the November 2008 Colorado ballot proposes to limit government payroll deductions to specified items. The amendment effectively prohibits the collection and transfer of funds to private non-charitable groups that lobby government officials and fund campaigns— including such groups as political parties, professional associations, and labor unions. Current Colorado law allows government payroll systems to administer and deliver money to these groups.

The primary argument for Amendment 49 is that it eliminates a major conflict of interest. Proponents say government should not be able to transfer money to politically active groups that use the same money to influence the officials who represent that government. Three other leading arguments for Amendment 49, as exemplified in the endorsements of Colorado’s major newspapers, are as follows:

  • It focuses government on core functions
  • It levels the playing field among various lobbyists and interest groups
  • It protects many public employees from unwanted deductions